DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction at Atlanta Plastic Surgery, PC
Performed at our Atlanta, Alpharetta and Cumming, GA locations.
Although the TRAM flap procedure may be one the most commonly used method for autologous breast reconstruction in the world, it is certainly not the only option available. Every woman’s body is unique and those individual requirements often require that different approaches be used in order to achieve the same overall goals. One alternative approach to natural tissue flap breast reconstruction is called the DIEP flap technique.
Short for “Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator,” the DIEP flap method is superficially similar to the Free Tram procedure, but has some very important differences. Like the TRAM flap, the DIEP flap transplants tissue that has been taken from the patient’s own abdominal area to the chest, where it is used to rebuild the breast mound. However, it uses only the skin, fat, and attached blood vessels; no abdominal muscle is removed. Proponents of this method maintain that it creates a more naturally textured breast while avoiding the abdominal weakness that could potentially be a side effect of a TRAM flap procedure. On the other hand, many reconstructive surgeons favor a more traditional TRAM flap approach because it does not require severing the blood vessels, and so allows them to render an increased blood supply to the new breast.
While DIEP flap breast reconstruction is popular because it often requires a shorter recovery period, the procedure is not for everyone. Women who lack sufficient belly tissue, who have already undergone other abdominal surgeries, like a tummy tuck, or whose blood vessels are small or not ideally located are generally better served with other techniques. During a consultation, one of our board-certified and experienced plastic surgeons can carefully go over your medical history and personal aesthetic goals in order to determine the breast reconstruction approach that is best for you.
Why is it called a DIEP flap procedure?
This breast reconstruction procedure is named for the blood vessels, called Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforators (DIEP), that are removed from the lower abdomen along with the skin and fat connected to them and transferred to the chest to reconstruct a breast. The DIEP flap procedure is similar to a TRAM flap procedure in that the patient’s own skin and fat are transferred to reconstruct the breast, but in this case, the surrounding abdominal muscle is not sacrificed.
What is the difference between the TRAM flap and DIEP flap?
A small amount of abdominal muscle is included in the tissue that is moved to the breast area during a TRAM flap breast reconstruction, but is left behind in a DIEP flap procedure. Studies have suggested that the DIEP flap procedure, because it does not move muscle, better preserves the strength and integrity of the abdominal wall. However, the DIEP flap is a significantly longer procedure and does not preserve the blood flow to the newly formed breast mound.
What would make me a candidate for a DIEP flap rather than a traditional TRAM flap procedure?
Because a TRAM flap procedure involves removing a small amount of muscle from the abdominal area, patients who do not have sufficient muscle mass in that area or who are otherwise prone to abdominal weakness may be a better candidate for a DIEP flap instead. Every patient has a unique anatomy and personal health concerns that all need to be taken into consideration during a full consultation in order to determine the approach that will achieve optimal results.
For almost fifty years, our team of board-certified reconstructive plastic surgeons at Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. has been on the forefront of research into the most advanced plastic surgery technology and surgical techniques. To explore our additional services, click on our individual plastic surgeon’s links below to learn more about facial, breast, and body reconstruction procedures.